Top Bloggers & Strength Coaches spill their 3 favorite exercises


Beach Run

Alright Junkies, we got a great post for you today!

We decided to have a little carnival of sorts here today with the top fitness bloggers and a few strength coaches.  I grilled these guys and gals on their favorite 3 exercises, and they all obliged!(notice I said favorite exercises, not just most effective exercises.  That wouldn’t be any fun!).

Let’s get started…

Top Bloggers Give There View

Mark Sisson – Mark’s Daily Apple

1. Barefoot beach sprints. I ran 80-100 miles a week for years, but I feel more like a true runner just doing one set of these each week (and no other running except when I “play”). Nothing beats the flat, hard sand at low tide with the sun just coming up to make me feel connected to everything. Speed, baby.

2. Wide grip pull-up marathon. I love seeing how many of these pups I can do in 10 minutes. Works not only most of the back, shoulders, biceps, and forearms, but ultimately works abs really well, too. If you are short on time, a couple of sets of these are all you need.

3. Inverted push-ups. Started doing these to rehab my shoulder and found I liked them better than regular push-ups. I usually do them with my feet on a bench (don’t tell the gym owner) or up a few flights of stairs. It’s a good way to transition to handstand push-ups.

Mark writes about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle at Mark’s Daily Apple.

Andrew Rubalcava – Go Healthy Go

1. Sitting Machine fly’s – For some reason, it’s just one of those exercises that “works” for me. I can typically put up a lot of weight on it, so it’s kind of fun! We all know that compound exercises tend to be more effective, but hey, you’ve gotta have fun too!

2. Pull Ups – Other than the push up, this is, in my opinion, the best workout on the planet. It’s challenging, all-encompassing and it can be used as a good form of pure competition.

3. Jump Rope – Whenever the cardio machines are all taken up, I just pull my jump rope out of my backpack and get to work! It’s a totally underrated workout that more people should get into.

Andrew writes about fitness, nutrition and being fit at Go Healthy Go Fit

Zach Even Esh – Underground Strength

You can get more from Zach by checking out his show at

Carla Birnberg –

Im kind of boring. Old school. I know to be hip, current, 2009! I should probably say some newfangled exercise where I stand on one leg on a BOSU ball whilst juggling dumbbells with one hand, but…

1. Stiff Legged Deadlift . I try not do to it every leg workout (since Im trying to practice what I preach more and change things around) but I love that when I do it Im always *sore* the next day in both my hamstrings/glutes.
Id always rather use free weights than machines & so many other hamstring exercises are machine only.

2. Dumbbell chest presses/flyes No reason other than when I do them I feel badass. Hardcore. Linda Hamilton circa T2 (or, for the kids out there, like Angelina in Tomb Raider).

3. Barbell squats. I know I should do these far more frequently than I do—but they are still a favorite of mine. I end up using the Smith Machine because I train solo now, but back in the day: barbell squats + training with my husband = love.

Carla writes about all things fitness at MizFit

Rob Pilger – Boxing

1. Dead Lift – I dig this exercise because it’s a total body exercises. It’s also a great strength indicator. If you want a rock hard physique, you better be using the dead lift.

2. Squat –  The squat is king as well. You can modify it to hit all the leg musculature. Posterior chain, groin, quads, and calves. It’s a great core and back exercise as well.

3. Chin Ups –  I’m sticking with another compound exercises here and placing the chin up as #3. The chin gets your upper back jacked! The chin up is also a great bicep and forearm exercise. It’s very challenging pariculary if you modify it several ways but the rewards form the execution are far worth it.

Rob writes about boxing and training at Boxing Performance and also at his blog….

Krista Scott Dixon –

1. Full back squat. The little black dress of exercises. Separates the
women from the girls; and the real athletes from the butt-bouncing

2. Full clean. Hits almost all your 2000 parts. Great cardio if you do
it for higher reps, or with minimal rest. (I like 1 rep per 30 sec.)
Frustrating as hell. Like a cat — it arrives and is friendly only
when it feels like it. Otherwise it will piss you off most of the
time. But when it’s right and all the little pieces fall into place…
it’s a religious experience.

3. Weighted pullups. Great for back and core strength. And also,
’cause, c’mon, you’re pulling yourself up WITH WEIGHT STUCK TO YOU!
(This is especially awesome with bumper plates. Nobody has to know you
aren’t chained to a 45 pounder.)

Krista writes about weightlifting for women at

Angie Schumacher – Women’s Diet and

1. Bulgarian Split Squat – Why? Because its hard AND very effective for working the lower body!

2. Push Ups – These are so effective in working the entire upper body, not to mention your abs!

3. Inverted Rows – I love these because I just feel SO strong when I am able to do them with no bent knees! I also love the way they work my back!

Angie writes about fitness and workouts for women at

Kira Clarke – The Fight

1. Speed round kicking –  Why? Because spanking pads is a truly liberating experience that brings you nearer to God 😉

2. Parkour circuits – Why? Because jumping off stuff is almost as much fun as spanking stuff 😉

3. Moving a vehicle – Why? Because it makes me feel like Conan the Barbarian 🙂

You can get more videos and fight info from Kira at The Fight Geek

Scott Kustes – Modern

1. Deadlift – There’s nothing more primal than picking something heavy up off the ground.  With this one exercise, you can get a full-body workout.  Anyone can learn to do this exercise and it’s safe so long as proper form is maintained.
2. Back squat – I love the feeling of loading up 300+ lbs and cranking out squats.  And I mean full, below parallel squats, not the 1/4 squats that most people do.  Most people in the gym are focusing too much on their arms and not enough on their legs.  Squats will release some serious testosterone.
3. Hang power clean – I love the speed of this lift.  It’s fun and functional.

Scott writes about nutrition and food at Modern Forager.

Israel – Fat Man

1. Squats – Why? I like squatting because it is the most challenging exercise movement for me. I’ve been squatting since high school and always had a hard time because of my long legs. EVERY TIME I squat I feel the pump, no matter how much or how little weight I use. I can’t say that for any other exercise I do besides high intensity circuit or super set stuff. Plus it makes you stronger all over…

2. Sprints or HIIT – Why? This is another one of those things I have been doing since high school. I feel the burn and I love it. It shows me that I am working hard. The results are pretty awesome too. I have a love hate relationship with sprints and squats above. I love doing them, but they scare the crap out of me because I know I am about to get my ass handed to me.

3. Jogging – Why? I just like jogging because it helps me get my mind off of the stressful things in life. I like being drenched in sweat as I am jogging on a treadmill or down the trail or on a track, it doesn’t matter where really.

Israel blogs about his weight loss journey at Fat Man Unleashed.

AJ Roberts – Hardcore Strength Coach

1. Good Mornings – this is probably one of my favorite strength exercises that really hits the Lower Back, Hamstrings, and Glutes.  To perform a good morning, place a barbell bar across your back just as you would if you were going to squat. Fill your stomach with air and keeping this tightness bend forward at the hips by pushing your butt back and keeping your back arched. Lower until you are just above parallel, then return to the start position by driving your hips through.

2. Zercher Squat – this exercise will hit both the lower and upper body and is awesome for building overall strength. Place the bar across the crook of your arms and clasp the hands close to the chest. Push the hips back and squat down keeping the chest and head up. Return to the starting position and repeat.

3.  Reverse Hyper – in my opionion the Reverse Hyper is the best lower body exercise there is. Not only does it strengthen the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes but it also is great for restoration and rehabilitation.

You can read more about AJ’s powerlifting and strength advice at Hardcore Strength Coach.

Vic Magary – Gym

1. Medicine Ball Slams – Slamming something as hard as you can against the pavement is really liberating.  Ball slams work your whole body from your arms to your core to your legs and they work very well in a circuit style workout (just make sure you use a ball that doesn’t bounce)

2. The Squat – I know everyone else has listed this too, but there’s a reason for it.  The squat and the deadlift are the two most effective exercises when it comes to building muscle.  Being able to squat a ton of weight just makes you feel like a warrior.

3. Burpees – They’re an amazing cardio exercise that will get your heart pumping like no other.  Burpees can also be done pretty much anywhere (gym, office, home).  If you’re not doin burpees and you’re trying to lose weight, you’re missing the boat.


Let’s get a good discussion going.  What are your favorite 3 exercises?  Are they the basics like deads and squats?  Or do you like something crazy like 1 armed pushups?  Share your 3 favorite below in the comments section!

Train Hard!



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  1. I’m not a trainer or anything but my favorites are pullups (deadhang, kipping, rings, whatever), squat cleans, and a good bouldering session in the cave.

  2. It’s great to see the big compound exercises coming up as favorites – they really are the most effective. Personally I like deadlifts (because it’s cool to lift big weights), pull-ups (the best bodyweight exercise) and cleans (good fun).

  3. 1)Front Squats – they are just tougher for me and have always been a challenge, and, as I always share with my clients and trainees, they are self-correcting
    2)Hanging Power Snatch – great for explosion, coordination, power and an all-around ass kicker
    3)Sled Dragging – we have a strap attached to an old tractor tire (solid rubber and the rim – heavy…) we drag forward & backward, with straps & chains, handles & no handles, sprints, laps, for time….man! Sleds are great!!

  4. 1. Pull ups
    2. Push ups
    3. Bastards aka burpees

    Compound bodyweight exercises all the way. Great post and it’s awesome to see the pull up being mentioned so often.

  5. Hey Vic, I’m new here but have enjoyed looking around. I love your phylosphy.

    My fave exercises are:
    1. flies (just makes me feel strong and I like shoulders!)
    2. HIIT (holds my interest much more than normal cardio)
    3. the plank (I know, I have no idea why apart from I can feel the benefits)

    Spanking, jumping Conan made me laugh….lol

    thanks for a great post. Always interesting to see what other people are doing….

    Tusc 😀

  6. Push ups
    Pull ups/Chin ups
    Tie: Squats and Deadlifts

    Nothing is more invigorating than the push up. But for a full body workout, squats and deadlifts are the way to go for me. And for some cardio, just do high reps, low weight and fast.

  7. there are some new ones I am taking a liking to like burpees, hindu squats, and push ups. I used to love doing pull ups, when I could do them (working on getting back to my old form).

  8. Great post and comments. For me it is as follows:

    1. Clean and jerk. Just a fantastic full body exercise. Works for strength, speed, power, flexibility and increases my overall athleticism for sport.

    2. Snatch – same as above. With the exception of the pullup, both the snatch and C&J incorporate most of the exercises mentioned above, back squats, front squats, cleans, jumps, etc.

    3. Pullups

  9. Hey Vic,

    Um … I read everybody’s favorite exercises and it made me feel like the bad kid in class who’s always screwing around 😉

    Anyway, thanks for including me 🙂

    btw, I love Dan’s name for Burpees … he’s spot on … I’ll start calling them bastards from now on too!


  10. 1. Deadlifts.I love deadlifts because they allow me to lift more weight than any other exercise. I feel like a badass standing there with that much weight in my hands (no straps, no belt, no equipment whatsoever). Additionally they have made my back thick and heavily muscled, and I do love the aesthetics of a muscular back on either a man or woman.

    2. Pullups. I don’t think I’ve had a moment in the gym as exhilarating as my first chinup.

    3. Overhead press. I’ve been riding the high of finally pressing 100 lbs. for over a month now. I knew, as a woman, that pressing big weights would be a struggle for me and I have worked crazy-hard on this lift.

  11. So many to choose from; but if I have to choose:

    1. Hanging DB/KB Snatches
    2. Hill Sprints
    3. Glute-Ham Raises facing backwards on the pulldown machine

    All 3 exercises affect a ton of muscles, work the core really hard, and depending on load, rest, speed, etc…you can develop power, speed, quickness and/or anaerobic endurance.

    Hey Vic, howz about another round of questions and answers? This time, you ask your panel for their favorite type of training method and why?

    Tabatas, 5×5, High Intensity, Curves???

  12. Oh, these are all fantastic! I notice the frequent mention of deadlifts – those are my personal favorite too. But now I’m really jazzed about those medicine ball slams: that’s definitely going to appear in my workouts soon.

  13. Looking good, Junkies! Damn, look at all of those pull ups going on! Anyone have a lat pull down machine we can take turns bashing with a sledge hammer? Other than the classics that I am THRILLED to see mentioned repeatedly (pull ups, deadlifts, squats), I wanted to comment specifically on a few of the exercises that I thought were especially cool. . .

    Scott: Oh the sled drag. Oh the f’n sled drag! Gotta love it. Whether it’s a big old tire or a fancy plate loaded sled, forward or backward, gotta love the sled drags.

    Michael: I have this love/hate relationship with the O-Lifts. I love the explosive power, and I hate the technical acuity required. I compare the Olympic Lifts to golf (not that I play), in that you hit one snatch or clean just right, and it keeps you coming back even though you’re dicking up every lift after that. Cleans and snatches (and their derivatives. . . hanging, power) are probably my worst lifts from a technical standpoint, but I still do one or the other every week.

    Saan: Congrats on the big overhead lift! Awesome!

    DR: You might be on to something there with a post on trainer’s favorite training methods. Just looking at the trainers who contributed to this post, we have power lifters, odd object strength training, combat athletes, and fans of high intensity interval training. Keep your eye on GymJunkies. . . you never know what we’ll post next!

  14. @Kira – When you get to the top of the jump you know what you have to shout out now. If someone tells you to do the bastards then they then become the bastard. The laughs help to take away the pain. Trust me.

    @Vic – sorry for the bad language

  15. @ Dan: You haven’t seen our blooper reel from our video series, have you? We’re no stranger to profanity here at GymJunkies. Sign up for our free video series to check it out (and get a good laugh).

  16. It’s always so sweet and also full of a lot of fun for me personally and my office colleagues to search your blog a minimum of thrice in a week to see the new guidance you have got.


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